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Rev. Msgr. William J. Hennessey

Deceased: 2020-06-27

Diocese: MIAMI

Seminary Graduation Year: 1962

ICTE Fall: 1984

Msgr. William J. Hennessey: born Sept. 14, 1935; ordained Dec. 20, 1961; died June 27, 2020.

Msgr. William Hennessey died on June 27, 2020.

Born Sept. 14, 1935 in Cranford, New Jersey, Msgr. Hennessey grew up in West Palm Beach, where his family had moved when he was eight months old. He attended St. Ann School there and graduated from Palm Beach High School, after which he entered the seminary.

When he was sent to finish his studies at the North American College in Rome in 1958, he was studying for the Diocese of St. Augustine, which at that time covered the whole state of Florida. Within a month of being there, however, the Diocese of Miami was established and Msgr. Hennessey, as a resident of one of its counties, automatically became one of its seminarians.

Both he and Archbishop Favalora, who was studying for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, were ordained at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica on Dec. 20, 1961.

Msgr. Hennessey went on to serve in many archdiocesan positions, including as parochial vicar at St. Patrick in Miami Beach, Little Flower in Hollywood, Immaculate Conception in Hialeah, and St. Monica in Miami Gardens, all in the 1960s. In the 1970s, he served as parochial vicar at St. Mary Magdalen in Sunny Isles Beach, St. Brendan in Miami, Our Lady of the Lakes in Miami Lakes and St. David in Davie, as well as administrator of St. Philip Neri in Opa-Locka (1972-74).

He also served as director of vocations (1969-72) and financial administrator (1993-95) for the archdiocese. He obtained a master’s degree in school administration from Florida State University in 1976.

But his favorite assignment, he told the Florida Catholic, was being founding pastor of St. Mark in Southwest Ranches. When he took on the position in July 1985, he said, he had 60 people in attendance at Mass. By the time he left in 1995, St. Mark had 10,000 registered parishioners.

In 1996, Msgr. Hennessey was named a prelate of honor, or monsignor. In 2007, he was elevated to the highest rank of monsignor, protonotary apostolic supernumerary. He retired from active ministry in September 2010, although he continued for as long as he could celebrating daily Mass for the Pastoral Center staff at St. Martha in Miami Shores, and weekend Masses at St. Mark.

Msgr. Hennessey, the youngest of two children, is survived by his nieces, Kathleen Dibble of West Palm Beach and Sharon Mason of Charlotte, North Carolina, and a nephew, Mark Patterson, of West Palm Beach; as well as a number of grandnieces and grandnephews.